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WCWS Tournament Of Champions Bracket: Session Two

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In absence of the 2020 WCWS, we bring you the Ultimate Champions Bracket!

We teamed up with the NCAA to pick the Top 16 teams to walk away with the highly coveted national title.

For this bracket, we took into account milestones, big performances, and eventually expanded the bracket to 16 to avoid an all UCLA/Arizona bracket. We slotted in every team with a championship and then allocated three slots to 12 x national champions UCLA and two slots to 8 x national champions Arizona.

The Pac-12 leads all conferences with 24, followed by the Big 12 (4), SEC (3), Southwest (2)*, and a single championship for the ACC, Big Ten, and Big West.

We will take an in-depth look at each team in the bracket. On to the Top 16!

*Texas A&M was a member of the Southwest Conference during its two titles.


UCLA 2003

The Bruins’ senior class entered the 2003 season as the only class without a championship title* coming off their worst finish in an NCAA tournament (5th) in 2002. The previous two seasons, the Bruins suffered consecutive runner-up finishes to Oklahoma (2000) and Arizona (2001). With the loss of two Olympians, Stacey Nuevman and Amanda Freed to graduation, the 2003 squad relied heavily on its young freshman class to bring the trophy back to Westwood. Dropping the first game to California, the Bruins clawed back to beat the Texas Longhorns twice on Saturday with Natasha Wately’s infamous slide at home.

In the finals, Keira Goerl started for the Bruins and went on to throw the only no-hitter in Women’s College Series history. Toria Auelua’s ninth-inning RBI single led UCLA to its ninth NCAA Softball Championship as the Bruins defeated California 1-0 in the National Championship Game. The game was originally scheduled to be broadcast live on ESPN, but because the Yankees-Red Sox Major League Baseball, the nine-inning thriller was aired on a tape-delayed.

Players To Note: 
Natasha Watley
Senior Shortstop
Natasha Watley The 2003 Pac-10 Player of The Year and the Honda Cup Award Winner was the nation’s top female athlete. The triple-threat lefty anchored the Bruin defense and continued the long line of Olympic shortstops for UCLA. In her senior season, she hit .481 racking up the most hits (102) in the nation and

Keira Goerl 
Junior Pitcher 
In her junior season, Keira Goerl tossed 310.7 innings appearing in 48 games for the Bruins going 40-7, ranking second in the NCAA in ERA (0.63). The junior right-hander was the Pac-10 Pitcher of the Year and Most Outstanding Player of the Women’s College Series.

By The Numbers:

Coach: Sue Enquist
Assistant Coach: Kelly Inoye-Perez
Assistant Coach: Gina Vecchinone
Assistant Coach: Lisa Fernandez

Overall Record: 54-7
Pac-10 Record: 17-4

Road to OKC
NCAA Regionals – Fresno, Calif.
vs. Colgate, 8-0 W
vs. Fresno State, 3-0 W
vs. Michigan State, 6-2 W

NCAA Women’s College World Series
vs. California 7-3, L
vs. Louisiana 5-1, W
vs. Washington 2-1, W
vs. Texas, 3-0 W
vs. Texas, 2-1 W
vs. Cal,  W 1-0 (9)


Fresno State Photo 1998

 

Fresno State 1998

The Bulldogs captured their first softball national title in their fifth appearance in the NCAA championship game after posting a 1-0 shutout win over #1 seed and top-ranked Arizona. The Wildcats hadn’t given up a run all postseason and had one five of the last seven national championships. Nina Lindenberg quickly changed the narrative in the final game when she led off the bottom of the sixth inning for Fresno State, hitting senior RHP Nancy Evan’s first pitch over the bleachers in left field for a solo home run — her 13th on the year. Sophomore RHP Amanda Scott (Clovis) shut down the Wildcats on three hits and struck out six for her 14th shutout and 25th win.

Players To Note: 
Laura Berg
Senior Outfielder 
Laura Berg broke Fresno State’s all-time career hit record against San Jose State and surpassed the NCAA’s all-time career hit mark of 371 (by Arizona’s Leah O’Brien and Amy Chellevold) against Cal Poly SLO. Arizona’s Alison Johnsen-McCutcheon (407), who reached the milestone first, and Berg (396) finished one-two as the NCAA’s all-time top two hit leaders. Berg was a 4 x All-American and went on to play for the U.S. Women’s National Team winning three gold medals with Team USA.
Nina Lindenberg
Senior Infielder
Lindenberg holds WAC records in career doubles (54), RBI (201), batting average (.440), and slugging percentage (.766) and batted .449 in the three-hole for the Bulldogs. Lindenberg was a two-time WAC Player of the Year (1996 & 1998) and the seventh player in NCAA history with 200 or more career RBI & 15th player with 300 or more career hits.
By The Numbers:

Coach: Margie Wright (13th Season)
Assistant Coach:
Assistant Coach:

Overall Record: 52-11
WAC Record: 28-2 (WAC champion)

Road to OKC
NCAA Regionals – Fresno, Calif.
vs. Minnesota, 2-1 W
vs. California, 6-3 W
vs. Minnesota, 6-0 W

NCAA Women’s College World Series
vs. Nebraska 6-1, W
vs. Michigan 8-0 (5), W
vs. Washington 1-3, L
vs. Washington, 6-1 W
vs. Arizona 1-0, W


2003 UCLA vs 1998 Fresno State

  • #1 UCLA (2003) (67%, 20 Votes)
  • #16 Fresno State (1998) (33%, 10 Votes)

Total Voters: 30

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Photo Courtesy of Texas A&M Athletics

Texas A&M 1987

The Aggies avenged their 1986 loss to CSUF to pick up the program’s second title in Omaha, Nebraska. With a fairly young squad, Texas A&M relied heavily on senior All-American Shawn Adaya during the WCWS. TAMU beat Central Michigan 3-0 in their first-round matchup and avenged their previous season loss by besting CSUF, 2-1. However, TAMU ran up against a red hot UCLA team and fell to the Bruins by the arm of All-American, Lisa Longaker only to bounce back and beat Nebraska 4-0 in the semi-finals.

Facing a familiar foe in the Bruins, the Aggies beat UCLA on a perfect game by senior Shawn Adaya in Game 1 of the Championship forcing the Bruins to an if-game. In a surprising move, UCLA did not throw their ace in Game 2 allowing the Aggies to get three straight singles off of starting pitcher, Michelle Phillips, in the first inning. Adaya pitched a complete game striking out six batters and went 1-3 at the plate with 2 RBI picking up the win for the Aggies.

Players To Note: 
Shawn Adaya, Lodi, California
Senior Pitcher 

Shawn Adaya was named the captain of the 1987 team and played in three national championship games for the Aggies. The 3 x All-American’s career numbers are mind-blowing with 114 wins, 0.43 ERA and a whopping 1,234 strikeouts. In her senior campaign, she threw 302.2 innings and giving up only 19 earned runs in 44 games. In an interview with The Eagle back in 2015 Adaya said, “I was too small. I’d be considered too small these days. I was about 5-6 and most pitchers are about 6 foot and throw 70 [mph].” Read the full article here.

Julie Smith
Freshman Infielder 

Named to the All-Tournament team as a freshman, the switch hitter led the Aggies in six offensive categories including batting average (.360), at-bats (222), runs (46), hits (80), triples (3), total bases (99) and stolen bases (12). Smith was tied for home runs (3) with Erin Newkirk and WEkia Eriksson.

By the numbers:

Coach: Bob Brock
Assistant Coach: Pattie Holthaus
Trainer: Chris Blume
Record: 56-8

Road to Omaha
vs. Louisiana Tech, 4-0 W (Central Regional)
vs. Louisiana Tech, 2-1 W (West Regional)

NCAA Women’s College World Series
vs. Central Michigan, 3-0 W
vs. Cal State Fullerton, 2-1 W
vs. UCLA, 1-0 L
vs. Nebraska, 4-0, W
vs. UCLA 1-0, W
vs. UCLA 4-1, W


Arizona 2001

Jennie Finch’s perfect season.

Every Arizona game in the WCWS was decided by a single run. The Wildcats arrived in Oklahoma City to play a familiar opponent, No. 6 California Bears. The Cats picked up their first victory over the Bears due in part to a line-drive homer by Toni Mascarenas off the left-field camera tower for a 3-2 win. Arizona took on the defending national champions in their second game of the series, Oklahoma, only to fall behind, 4-0. The Cats went onto make a historic comeback in extra innings to beat OU, 5-4. After a 1-0 win over Stanford, Mike Candrea and his squad faced long-time rival, UCLA in the championship game for the seventh time in history. Amanda Freed started in the circle for the Bruins in a head to head matchup against Jennie Finch. UA scored in the fourth on a homer to right by catcher Linsey Collins, her third WCWS home run and thwarted a seventh-inning rally to take home their sixth national title

Players To Note: 
Jennie Finch
Junior Pitcher 
The junior pitcher went 32-0 and won the Honda Softball Award as was named UA’s fourth National Player of the Year. The tall right-hander finished the season with a 0.54 ERA and held lead her team to three WCWS victories. Finch was successful at the plate as well hitting .313 with 11 home runs and 57 RBIs.

Tony Mascarenas 
Senior Infielder 
The All-American veteran blasted three game-changing homers during the series earning all-tournament honors. Mascarenas led the team with 25 homers tying former sluggers, Jenny Dalton and Leah Braatz for the fourth-highest season total. In fact, Arizona set an NCAA record for home runs (126) that season surpassing the 1995 Wildcats by 26 homers.

By The Numbers:

Coach: Mike Candrea (16th Season)
Assistant Coach: Larry Ray
Assistant Coach: Nancy Evans
Record: 65-4
Pac-10 Record: 19-2

Road to OKC 

Regionals
vs. Saint Peter’s, 4-2 W
vs. Texas Tech, 8-0 W
vs. Cal State Fullerton, 5-4 W
vs. Southwest Texas State, 6-2 W

NCAA Women’s College World Series
vs. California, 3-2 W
vs. Oklahoma, 5-4 W
vs. Stanford, 1-0 W
vs. UCLA, 1-0 W


1987 Texas A&M vs 2001 Arizona

  • #9 Arizona (2001) (97%, 35 Votes)
  • #8 Texas A&M (1987) (3%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 36

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*UCLA’s 1995 title was vacated by NCAA

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